Web-soaps or Wallace & Gromit – who says there's nothing on?

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The Independent Tech

BBC iPlayer ( www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer )

Weekly viewer numbers recently hit 1.1 million, up from 750,000 in January. Since the service's Christmas launch, more than 42 million programmes have been viewed. All the corporation's flagship shows, including The Apprentice, are available for up to a week, and there's no pesky software downloads – the shows can be streamed straight from the site, and they buffer remarkably fast.

4OD ( www.channel4.com/4od )

Channel 4 beat the Beeb to the punch by launching 4 On Demand in November 2006. The service is available online and through cable television networks, and has free archive episodes of programmes, such as Desperate Housewives (pictured above), for up to 30 days. Unlike iPlayer, however, the online version requires you to download a Mac-unfriendly piece of software.

ITV Catch Up ( www.itv.com/catchup)

ITV is joining forces with the BBC and Channel 4 for Project Kangaroo. Until then, you can watch shows from all four ITV channels from the past 30 days via their Catch Up site.

VBS.TV ( www.vbs.tv )

Vice Magazine, the Canadian countercultural freebie turned global behemoth, launched its online channel in October, with Spike Jonze as creative director. Streaming pop culture, travel and reportage in a tone familiar to readers, it has already screened a documentary about an Iraqi heavy metal band as well as a programme on North Korea (pictured, top).

Joost ( www.joost.com)

A sleek site full of free programming, which took 150 software developers two years to perfect (it's still at the "open beta" stage – effectively, being road-tested by the public), Joost has a vast range of shows for anyone with an operating system recent enough to download the peer-to-peer software. The site has licensing deals with programme-makers including Endemol, RDF and Aardman Animation.

Current TV ( current.com)

Launched by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt in 2005, Current TV streams short, independent-minded "pods" or short programmes, such as a Zimbabwe documentary (pictured above). The content is created by users, then filtered and approved by the in-house programming department. Last year, the network won an Emmy award for best interactive television service.

Wwi TV ( www.wwitv.com )

Worldwide Internet TV streams live programming from across the globe, a lot of which is either unintelligible or plain rubbish, but it's a useful resource nonetheless. There's even a Kazakh channel available for those who will inevitably wish to seek out the real Borat. Strangely rewarding.

Mania TV ( www.maniatv.com)

A US-based online channel that claims to have 10 million viewers per week, Mania TV cancelled its user-generated content last year due to lack of demand. The professional stuff that's on there is of some quality. Mania also has a live stream to generate the illusion of a regular television channel.

Bebo ( www.bebo.com/Video.jsp)

The social networking site recently generated the UK's first web-to-television crossover show, with online teen drama Sofia's Diary (pictured, above) being bought by Five for its new teen channel, Fiver. It's also the home of web-soap KateModern. This week, KateModern's plot will crossover with that of LonelyGirl15, the American web-soap. Weekly viewer numbers recently hit 1.1 million, up from 750,000 in January. Since the service's Christmas launch, more than 42 million programmes have been viewed. All the corporation's flagship shows, including The Apprentice, are available for up to a week, and there's no pesky software downloads – the shows can be streamed straight from the site, and they buffer remarkably fast.

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